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Simplicity versus Frugality

post #1 of 26
Thread Starter 

I have suspected this all along, but have been doing the frugal rout forever. So, now after several moves with a lot of "stuff", I realize what my biggest problem is: frugality!

 

I keep the little shampoos, soaps, body lotion from hotels and it just takes my dh & me super long to go through them since we actually like "our" brands. I try to get the last drop out of the soap bottle, but until I can do it, it's sitting on the counter. The same with tea bags. I buy in bulk, but we don't have enough space to store it properly without feeling crammed. Rubber bands collected in drawers that get all tangled up with the spoons stored in it. See where I'm coming from? There are countless more examples. Anyone else out there that has the same problem? I feel like I have to give up my frugal ways to have an empty counter in the kitchen! Is there a way to be both, frugal and organized?

post #2 of 26
You have to pick what works for your life/budget.

Many hoarders have issues with this. Frugal doesn't mean keeping everything that comes into your life

For the toiletries, either take what you can easily use, take and donate what you can't easily use, or just use them up at the hotel and keep your stuff at home.
post #3 of 26

ugh, yes, totally.  I felt very freed when I recycled my big yogurt container instead of saving it "just in case" i needed it (I use them for leftovers, etc.)  Now I have to filter through all the glass jars I save for food storage to the few we actually need.  And I totally have that rubberband drawer, and on and on and on.  I hate to toss stuff I might need later, but we have a teensy house and no storage space and it gets too overwhelming.  I think it really is a balance that I have yet to acheive, but am working on along with you!

post #4 of 26
It sounds like you need organization.

Do you save glass jars? They are great for storing things like rubber bands. And you can also pour all the little bottles of shampoos etc. into a big jar or bottle. If you won't use it though, just donate it.

If you can get a good organization system -- like jars, or I've also seen those metal altoid-type tins, or dividers, or egg cartons, whatever works for you -- then you store the little items in there. And when you run out of space (the rubber band jar is full), that's when you know it's time to start tossing/donating the excess.

Pinterest has some cool ideas for organizing (ex: here and here) , and you can probably use things you already have lying around (rather than buying new boxes/bins) but the dollar store is also a good/cheap place to check for bins, compartments, small boxes, etc. if you can't use what you already have. Those clear shoe storage things that hang over your door (like this) work really well too, because you can see all the odds and ends at a glance.

My friends consider me to be both the most frugal and the most minimalistic/simplified person they know. So you can definitely be both! It takes some time to get there. You have to let go of the idea that "someday you might need this" and focus only on saving/storing the things you actually use on a regular basis. And you have to make it accessible... it doesn't do any good to save ribbons and strings if they are all too tangled up -- or misplaced -- when you go to wrap a present.
post #5 of 26
Just set limits.

I keep three nice spaghetti jars and let the rest go to recycling. I keep a few nice rubber bands in an organized spot in my desk drawer and I kept the rest go.


When the kids were small, I often asked the teachers what they used for crafty items. Many teachers do save tissue tubes, paper towel rolls or baby food jars for craft making by the young students.
post #6 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by philomom View Post

Just set limits.
 

 

 

Agree. 

 

How many rubber bands do you really need? There are some easy, frugal ways to organize little items.

- I have a sandwich-sized zip loc bag for rubber bands and another for twist ties, bread closure clips, and a set of larger plastic clips from IKEA for closing bags. That's more than enough for our needs. The zip locs keep them from tangling with other stuff and are easy to find when I need them. They also squash nicely into the drawer and don't take up a lot of room, which is why I prefer them to other storage ideas like canisters or jars. YMMV. 

- I use an empty paper roll (from a tube of parchment paper) to corral the few plastic veggie bags that come into the house. It's in the same drawer with the rubber band and clips baggies. 

- An old Kleenex box holds the few plastic grocery bags that we get occasionally. It lives under our sink. 

 

 

I try to use up one of those little sample bottles every time we reach the end of  a shampoo bottle rather than replacing our favoured brand right away.  

 

I have a little pang when I toss an empty jar or cardboard box into recycling. It's better than having a house filled with unnecessary clutter. 

 

Sometimes I have to admit that I just don't have the space I want, so I can't take advantage of every frugal idea out there. I don't have a deep freezer, so I can't stock up the way I would like during summer harvest or when there is great sale at the supermarket. It means I have to be a little more careful about shopping year-round. I think of it as a challenge. 

post #7 of 26
Yes, setting limits is what helps me with this. I have a small container to keep rubber bands, I don't keep more than will fit in that container.

I like to have a few grocery plastic bags sitting around, but how many do I really need? 2-3 works fine for me, others might need a couple more.

For storage of leftovers, I got fed up with having a bunch of plastic containers that didn't fit together well, so I recycled them all and purchased some that nest (lids and all) into each other. It takes up so much less space and I'm not lid hunting, totally worth it!

I keep one extra glass jar under the sink to put grease in when my current glass jar in the fridge gets full. Why save more than one for this, right?

I only buy things in bulk that I have a place to store them. If I don't have a place for it, then the time spent cleaning/working around it negates the $$ savings IMO! Make sure you are valuing your time appropriately.

Again, limits, valuing my time as well as my $$, and making sure everything has a place has helped with this immensely. I still save things that I know I will use, but not every single one. 600 tangled rubber bands is not better than 10-20 neat ones and I'll probably not use 600 rubber bands in my lifetime, so how many do I really need lying around!
post #8 of 26

Being frugal (and simple) often means choosing quality, or plain old what works, over quantity.  It's not a good deal if you won't use it or you can't find it.  Cheap and frugal are two different things in my book.  This usually helps with the organization issue as well.

If you like I certain shampoo then you can seek out the best value on that product. 

Sometimes figuring out what is worth your time and money takes some trial and error.  For instance, I get a lot of hand me downs for the kids but the quantity makes storage and laundry too much (I wait too long and am overwhelmed when it's time to do laundry.).  I finally realized that it's ok to get rid of most of the hand me downs and just keep what we like/need.  Like others said, setting limits.

post #9 of 26

Your local homeless shelter would probably take the mini shampoos.  

post #10 of 26

My mantra...Strive to have the house be a sanctuary, not a storage unit.  It helps.  

 

When I go through the closets/drawers for a deep-clean, I usually divide the findings into piles as follows...

 

1) Items to donate to a thrift store (clothing, larger household goods, etc.)

2) Items to donate to a food pantry (unopened food, unopened toiletry items like mini shampoos, soap, etc.)

3) Craft items (any state/quantity, this is where I put empty jars, rubber bands, etc.)

4) Food items (including opened things that we just didn't like or things not accepted at the food pantry)

5) Beauty items (opened makeup, half-used shampoos, etc.)

 

Then I use my phone to take a quick picture of piles 3, 4, and 5 and post them as separate "free" ads on a local equivalent of Craigslist/Freecycle.  Craft and beauty supplies are always requested in less than 5 minutes.  The food is usually gone within 20 minutes too.  

 

I don't like throwing things away, but if I know that someone else may be able to use them then I am much more likely to de-clutter.  There's less of the "I paid $15 for this lotion so I'm keeping it even though I hate the smell" kind of thing.

 

Good luck!

post #11 of 26

I agree that frugal & simple are not necessarily the same thing. That said, they can go hand-in-hand.

 

One thing I do w/ bulk purchases is store the "bulk" away from the "in-use".  For example, we buy the dried cocoa on sale and get 3 boxes of it.  2 boxes go into the pantry & the in-use box goes into a clear jar (big old peanut-butter jar, re-purposed) for current use & is kept in the kitchen cabinet.

 

Old peanut-butter jars. Now that I have about 2 or 3 for use, current used-up ones go in the recycling. If one of the one I use gets kind of old & yucky, then I'll take a newer one (that would have gone in the recycling) an recycle the old one. I do NOT keep all the old peanut butter jars. :)

 

re: old shampoos  from hotels

 

As other posters suggested - try to give the unopened ones away &  in future, don't bring them home if you don't really like and use them (it's taken me years to learn to do that).

 

re: last bit of shampoo or soap in container

Put in some water, shake & use up. Or, consolidate it w/ a newly opened bottle.

 

re: Rubber bands

- always have gone on the kitchen door-knob - I learned from my parents. Some people keep them in drawers? I learn something new from this forum all the time.

 

What other posters said about setting limits and then recycling.

 

Good luck, this is something I continue to work o/

post #12 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by CoBabyMaker View Post

Being frugal (and simple) often means choosing quality, or plain old what works, over quantity.  It's not a good deal if you won't use it or you can't find it.  Cheap and frugal are two different things in my book.  This usually helps with the organization issue as well.

If you like I certain shampoo then you can seek out the best value on that product. 

Sometimes figuring out what is worth your time and money takes some trial and error.  For instance, I get a lot of hand me downs for the kids but the quantity makes storage and laundry too much (I wait too long and am overwhelmed when it's time to do laundry.).  I finally realized that it's ok to get rid of most of the hand me downs and just keep what we like/need.  Like others said, setting limits.

yeahthat.gif

 

I've learned not to accept every freebie that come my way. If it is not something I already use, or had already planned on trying, I don't allow it to come into my home. 

 

I also agree that simplicity and frugality combined means choosing quality over quantity. Or sometimes just quality. For example, we just bought a new couch. It cost double the price of our old couch, but we also expect it to be with us for the rest of our lives. And, it was purchased from a long-established local company that will come out and repair the couch if anything should ever happen to it. It was made locally here in NC as well, which also fits into my definition of simplicity. 

post #13 of 26
I would be inclined to do a cost versus benefit analysis for these frugal practices. I don't mean creating a spreadsheet and a set of PowerPoint slides :), just some thought about what they're giving back versus the effort.
 
For example, re those shampoos:
 
Costs:
- takes up space
- causes annoyance and guilt because you don't want to use them.
- if you're like me, causes annoyance because they're difficult to use.
- if you're like me, causes a sort of disoriented annoyance because you go around smelling "wrong" from the fragrances. (That may be just me - I like to smell like products that I've chosen, or not smell at all.)
- if you take extras every day that you're at the hotel, causes more trash, usually including plastic trash, because of the inefficient packaging. (If you didn't take 'em, they'd just leave them there each day and throw out one set when you checked out.)
 
Benefits:
- money savings.
 
How much is the money savings? Compared to the really cheap shampoo that comes in a giant bottle for two or four dollars, it's probably less than a nickel per use. You may or may not use fancier shampoo, but since we're talking about you using what you get for free whether you like that product or not, it seems reasonable to compare the cost to the cheap stuff.
 
So I would argue that the hotel shampoo only wins if money is the one and only factor to consider.
 
Except, does it win even then? Because "takes up space" can turn into costing money. A lot of extra stuff in the home can result in needing a larger home than otherwise. Or if there's no way you'd go to a smaller home (you have a long-term lease, you own and selling is not reasonable right now, etc.), that stuff occupies space that you might use for other things.
 
Maybe you could save real money by buying fifty-pound bags of rice and beans, but that idea is impossible because there's no space. Maybe you occasionally lose a library book in a cluttered house and have to pay library fines, or you have to buy takeout because dealing with the house has taken so much time that you don't have time to cook. Maybe if you had more time and freedom from housekeeping you could tend a vegetable garden, or... well, you see the general idea, right? My argument is that a decluttered house doesn't just produce peace of mind, it can save money in many ways.
 
(And now if you'll turn your attention to the PowerPoint slides.... OK, OK, sorry.)
 
So I would say that it's good to resist the easy feel-good lure of money savings, and consider that saving in the context of the rest of your home life. Looking at the others:
 
> I try to get the last drop out of the soap bottle, but until I can do
> it, it's sitting on the counter.
 
Cost: Annoyance. Time. Clutter. Benefit: Maybe savings of two or three cents two or three times a month. I'd say not worth it; toss it even when you feel that guilt-inducing bit of heavy soap in the bottom.
 
> The same with tea bags.
 
Cost: Annoyance. Time. Clutter. Ick factor. Inferior second cup of tea. Benefit: A penny or two. Not worth it, IMO. (Of course, I realize that that's not my call. :)) On the other hand, what about getting a couple of tea strainers and buying tea in bulk? That probably saves money, and it doesn't include the ick factor or the inferior second cup of tea. On the other hand, it is extra time; it may not be worth it.
 
>I buy in
> bulk, but we don't have enough space to store it properly without
> feeling crammed.
 
And there you make my argument about the monetary value of space. :) I say, kick out those hotel soaps, and any stuff around the house that's "perfectly good" but for whatever reason you don't use it anyway. But if you don't have room for buying in bulk even after that, then so be it.
 
> Rubber bands collected in drawers that get all
> tangled up with the spoons stored in it. 
 
I'd suggest putting five or ten rubber bands in a small zip-top bag, pushing that to the back of the spoon drawer, and from then on throwing out rubber bands. When you use one, keep the next one that comes your way. Or maybe you just decide it's not worth saving them, you buy one small bag of rubber bands for a dollar or two and you're out of the rubber-band-worry business for a year or three or six. (I'm curious as to what people use these rubber bands for? - I have none and use none.)
 
> Is there a way to be both, frugal and organized?
 
I'd say that every frugal practice needs to be evaluated by the organized brain, and many may need to go, with the constant mental reassurance that organization and clear space saves money, even when you can't see that savings in the moment.
 
Maybe there are other frugal practices that are both frugal and organized. For example, if you clear enough space to store, say, five-gallon bottles of dish soap and shampoo in the garage, then you can keep refilling the little sink and bathroom bottles, and that "last drop" moment will come up far less often - and maybe you'll have saved enough money on that purchase to worry less about that last drop. If you're buying bottled beverages, you could start making iced tea, throwing out the tea bags merrily with the knowledge that even without using them twice, you're saving a lot. If you cook with canned beans, maybe you could start buying dry and cooking them up yourself. You may already have been doing these for years, or alternatively they may not fit in your life, but I think that they're examples of larger savings practices.
post #14 of 26
Wow crayfish that is the most amazing post!
post #15 of 26

Crayfish ... i use rubber bands

- (two actually for the moment) on top of re-used empty jam jars to secure some cloth-mesh type of fabric to sprout lentils and mung beans

- around some (not all) supplies of homeopathic medicines tubes (the ones i need to use once a week on alternate Sundays)

- around packs of playing cards

- whenever the kids ask me for one for various projects .....

 

so .... i have a box i baught (that sits in a drawer inside a plastic organiser which has pictures of what goes where , although i need to soon take everything out of these sets of drawers and probably throw away or re-organise half of the contents, it's been 4 years since i did that .... => probably going to be a spring cleaning project in the near future .....)

 

i was missing reading replies from you in this sub-forum ... since i'm SO SLOW on my decluttering journey

"evaluated by the organized brain" .... yeah, this is a step where i usually fumble .....

it still doesn't come "naturally" although i've picked up a few good ideas from MDC over the last 3 years ....

post #16 of 26
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by rnra View Post

My mantra...Strive to have the house be a sanctuary, not a storage unit.  It helps.  

 

Thank you, thank you, thank you, everyone for your very inspiring advice!  I love rnra's mantra above and am trying to keep this in mind as I go through our stuff. I have disposed of almost all our hotel soaps, shampoos, etc.  Rubber bands are getting thrown out as well (we keep a little bag in the drawer not more). My son "needs" them quite often for his projects.

Tea bags get thrown out right away as well. The soap dispenser gets a little swish with water or I place it on top of the new one for an hour and throw it out after that. It all feels sooo good!

 

You guys are GREAT!!!!

post #17 of 26

Wow, I was just looking at this thread wondering if I could be inspired to reduce clutter..... I realized I don't have rubber bands, twist ties, plastic baggies, or even old yogurt containers. maybe I am more of a minimalist than I realized. This is not to say that I don't need some help organizing what I do have!!!! I am going to go through the bathroom cupboards now and see if there is anything to donate, Im pretty sure I have some mini shampoos somewhere.
 

post #18 of 26

For those who just can't make themselves toss things like hotel bottles of shampoo, or that shampoo or facial cleanser that you used once and hated, call your local women's shelter and ask if they take opened toiletries. Ours does, and they are so grateful for these items- they are used by the women staying in residence, and they can give the little bottles to ladies who are leaving the shelter, too. I never would have thought that someone would want my half-used bottles of shampoo. But there ya go.

post #19 of 26

Loving this thread!  

 

With a 5yo and 3yo, and never having been very organized in the past, there is always a clutter battle going on in our home.  

 

Love the idea of the paper towel rolls to hold bags.  We keep a wall basket by the back door for the few plastics that do come in, for dog poo purposes.  We save any plastic veggie bags as well, so I'm definitely seeing how these work in this basket.

 

I try and save some cereal boxes for art projects - they can make great surfaces for a paint&glitter ornament, letter or number stencils, extra coloring space. Of course, there needs to be a space for the art supplies in the first place, but that has worked itself out very naturally in our home.   

 

If you have pet products that you are not going to use, local animal shelters will use those, too.  If you shred documents in your home, see if the shelter in your area will take the shreds for lining litter boxes.  

 

We received some of the magnetic spice tins for our wedding, and I have one that has twist-ties on the inside, and rubber bands (which don't come in that often) around the outside.  Recently a relative gave us some pampered chef gadgets, including some little clips and the reusable tie which is like a rubberized zip-tie.  I will probably regift them to someone who will use them, because we have found that clothespins work very well for many things around the house.  

 

I am one of those who hates to throw things away if they could still be used, so giving an item a second life before it hits the recycling bin or landfill is super important.  

 

Please forgive any redundancy.  :)

post #20 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by pookagoose View Post
I am one of those who hates to throw things away if they could still be used, so giving an item a second life before it hits the recycling bin or landfill is super 

 

 

One thing to evaluate, though, is whether that second life is actually reducing the amount of trash that gets thrown out.
 
For example, my mother used to take milk to work in old peanut butter jars. When she finished with a jar of peanut butter, she would painstakingly and laboriously scrub it out, use it a few times, and throw it out when she had another peanut butter jar. Every time she carried milk, she would laboriously scrub it again, because she was afraid of milk getting in the threads of the jar and going bad, and the jars weren't dishwasher-safe.
 
So, with this practice she threw away, let's say, twenty peanut butter jars a year. And without this practice, she would have thrown away that same twenty peanut butter jars a year. :) If she'd just bought one nice reusable dishwasher-safe beverage container, she could have used it for years and saved a lot of peanut-butter-jar scrubbing.
 
I'm not saying that you would do this, but I think that it is dangerously easy for the philosophy of "use it again to avoid extra trash" to just become "use it again," without any resulting benefit.
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